No screenshots yet.
|dTerracotta.j2l||Terracotta Battlefields||4.76 kB||02 May 2020|
|JJ1Ceramicus.j2t||J1 Ceramicus (Noka)||137.50 kB||12 Apr 2014|
|r-walk.xm||Walkin' in the park||1015.09 kB||16 Aug 2015|
It’s a cloudy day, and in this arena, organized by the abitants of Ceramicus, only one will win…
I was excited to see the author trying a battle level instead of a CTF one this time, because battle levels are theoretically more forgiving in their layout demands. There’s no symmetry requirement, and it’s also more acceptable for there to be areas that it’s hard to hit players in, because unlike in CTF there’s no flagholder for you to hunt down. If a player wants to hide away in a weird corner, they’re only hurting their own score, not yours. (Except in LRS.) And yet the design here seems less purposeful than in the author’s CTF maps. I don’t know if it’s a consequence of not having to worry about finding ways to connect one base to the other, but somehow this level ended up with a lot of awkward spots.
The most obvious are the dead ends. There are at least six spots at the end of the level where you end up in a dead end for no more reason than maybe an ammo pickup or two. These are the opposite of what I described above… the player who ends up in a dead end is supremely vulnerable to people chasing after them firing high-speed bullets, and has no way to get out or fight back. Dead ends can sometimes be good layout decisions if accompanied by some reward other than movement, such as a powerup, but the dead ends here are mostly just holes in the layout with no clear purpose.
The author’s good quality that does continue to manifest here is that there are a lot of details. The tileset is given a good workout, with lots of different kinds of walls interacting with each other to provide landmarks and generally make the level interesting to look at as you move around. The main issue with the tileset use, however, is that there are very few slopes, so once again it can be a bit hard to move around, though not to the same extent as in Greenflower Jungle. You can frequently be running along a platform and then crash into a wall that looked like it should have been a slope, all momentum lost. If the author was unwilling to compromise on graphical variety by using the tileset’s main slope option, the diagonal dark brown branch things, they should have either hidden slope-masked tiles behind layer 3 or else used MLLE to edit the masks of some regular tiles to make them slopes.
I think the closest comparison that comes to mind for this level’s layout is Blade’s Battle Pack, with its complicated layouts and sort of random ammo placement, though Blade always made sure to put lots of ammo in and this is still a little too focused on ice for some reason. (This time there’s an ice powerup inside a secret warp.) I’ll always have a big sweet spot for battle levels that have interesting features and are more than a series of wide passages connecting at various strategic points, and this does push some of my buttons in this regard, but inventive design isn’t itself an excuse to neglect flow. The author’s immediate challenge for future level design is to make it easier for the player to get around, so they can easily experience all the fun little details without getting stuck running into walls or not being able to jump high enough to make it onto platforms. The next step after that is figuring out how the level should flow as a whole, with all the individual areas working together in service to that larger flow, but the ability to move is a more pressing matter than the reason to move.
Eat your lima beans, Johnny.